Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 160 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Friday, October 20, 2023

Open Door Ministry - Rector's Rambling for October 22, 2023

     An important ministry of St. John’s Church is an open door.

I know that may sound funny.  “How can an open door be a ministry?”  But it is a vital thing that we do here at St. John’s!

When I arrived here in 2001 the church building was open on Sunday, and  for the Wednesday 12:15 Service parishioners knew to come through the old office building.  In my conversation with then Diocesan Bishop Gibbs, he expressed a desire that we not be a “Sunday only” congregation, to which I whole-heartedly agreed!  As I did at my last parish, we expanded the public worship schedule to include 4 weekday Holy Communion Services, and also added Evening Prayer.

The first few years we had the front doors open for the weekday Masses from 11:30 to 1 PM with a modestly paid attendant keeping an eye on the building during that time (and also worshipping with us). 

Since the reopening after Covid shutdowns, we have begun opening the church on weekdays from about 11 AM until 4:30 or so and Sunday afternoons from 3 until 6 PM. The security cameras and system alert those in the office if someone has entered, and they cannot get into the offices or undercroft.

On an average weekday a dozen or more people come into the church to look, take pictures, or to sit and pray. On Sundays it is triple that number depending on what events are happening at the stadiums/arena/theatre.  Brochures, The “Why Jesus” booklet from Alpha, and copies of Our Daily Bread are taken  by curiosity seekers. I regularly receive emails from people working and living in the neighborhood thanking us for the open building and chance to pray, and we now have several people who join us regularly for Sunday and/or weekday worship services because they encountered the ministry of an open door. 

May we strive to be a church with open doors and open hearts!